Things That Surprised Me About the U.K.

Things That Surprised Me About the U.K.

I have been meaning to write this, but I have observed a few things while living in the U.K.. some good and some..strange?😂

1. There are SO many KFCs and barely any Taco Bells😂

I find it amazing what fast food chains have taken off in the UK. The US has so many popular fast food chains (Arby’s, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen), but somehow KFC has spread like wildfire in the U.K.! 😂. It is everywhere! I was quite surprised by that because it’s not as popular of a place in the US! As far as Taco Bell’s go, you they’re quite rare in London, and quite popular in northern England! It really sucks when you get an intense Taco Bell craving and there are none in your area ….😅. Their menu is also quite smaller and no cinnamon twists!😭

2. Ranch dressing does not exist here

Yep, I said it. A land where you can’t find any ranch dressing. You also see a lot of people eating salads without ANY dressing 😂. To satisfy my salad dressing needs, I am able to use Caesar dressing! I have introduced my boyfriend, Chris, to ranch and now he’s obsessed! We love to dip broccoli and carrots in it, even chicken nuggets! If you’re moving to the U.K., buy ranch packets, you can make your own.

3. Day drinking is not a popular thing

Americans love a warm summer day surrounded by family and friends drinking a cold beer in the afternoon and then continuing to drink in moderation all day 😂! If you ask a Brit if they want to have a pint of beer or some wine in the early afternoon, they might look a bit puzzled! Like you might be an alcoholic? They love to drink, but they tend to wait until the evenings to hit up the pub or have a good house party. 🍻 Don’t get me wrong, not every Brit is this way, but this is what I have observed since I have moved here! 😂 I remember when I lived in the US, I went to a winery with my mom in the summer and had wine slushies in the afternoon and I texted my British boyfriend what I was doing and it was like I had committed some sort of sin 😂

This awesome strawberry daiquiri in Miami

4. Unreliable trains

I was amazing at how many people in the U.K. don’t drive! In London a lot of people rely on the tube or walk everywhere and don’t have cars-I don’t blame them because the traffic looks horrendous in some parts! Even outside of London though in more rural areas where I thought more people would drive-they rely on their trains and bus services. The trains are good for the most part- not the cheapest, but they do get you around! I take the train to and from work every day, but some days your train will have signal failures so it is either extremely slow or just terminates there and you’re screwed. You must find a new way to your destination. There was a time I took a train to view a house and I thought I would take an earlier train so I could look around the town-my train had massive signal failures and I almost arrive to my viewing late… An hour delay I want to say? It’s nuts! At the moment, my train is hourly instead of 3-4 times an hour due to Covid-19! I’m so ready to drive 😅.

5. So many vacation days!

When I started my nursing job in the U.K., I started out with five weeks of vacation days! I was so surprised by that! They encourage you to take time off-it’s so great! I felt like I was pulling teeth just to get some time off in the US! Plus it’s so cheap to fly anywhere in Europe-you can take just a couple of days off and fly anywhere ! (Ryanair is a cheap airline that many people use-I recommend!).

Recent trip to Germany

Living Abroad During Covid-19

Living Abroad During Covid-19

I’ve been living in England for just over a year now-hard to believe! Living with my boyfriend and our new puppy, Ellie, has been such a joy! I was about to get a U.K. driving license so I could drive our new car and stop relying on trains! I had flights booked to the US so I could see my parents!Life was going so well, and then Covid-19 decided to show up.

The three of us! ❤️

While at work in January, my colleague was on break with me and she was reading the newspaper. She knows like everything that’s going on in the world, I swear! Haha She asked if I had heard about the strange new virus going around China that came from bats. I told her I hadn’t. I assumed they would have gotten it under control quickly, nothing to worry about-we have so much technology in the world! Haha

I remember a couple of weeks later, the first case popped up in the U.K.! It was in the Yorkshire area! That’s when it started feeling real to me. It was scary. Over the next few weeks, I could see the numbers rising all around me-we were trapped.

My boyfriend, Chris, worked his last day in the office. He’s been home for two months now and he has no idea when he will be working in an office again. Will people even be working in offices in the future? I’ll admit, I do enjoy him working from home because he is like the best cook and he’s always making something awesome hahaha😂😂. Since he doesn’t have to go to the office in London, he is saving so much on train tickets!

I’m really lucky to be working for the NHS. My hospital has been giving free taxis for staff that have issues getting to and from work-it has been such a blessing! In the past I would take a train and then a bus to work. They’ve really reduced the train and bus services. My train is hourly now, instead of 3 times an hour to Cambridge! We’ve also been given free hot meals at work!

He made a Lotus Biscoff cheesecake 😍❤️

We had plans of going to the US to see my family, but unfortunately we’ve had to refund our tickets. Chris isn’t even allowed into the US because he’s British and I would be risking getting and spreading Covid to my loved ones-that’s not a present they would want haha. Luckily, I was able to see my family right before Christmas, so it wasn’t that long ago. Chris hasn’t seen my family since last summer! It has been so hard not knowing when I’ll be able to go home next. The U.K. seems to be reopening slowly and the U.S. varies depending on what state you’re from! I know I’ll see them eventually though. Such strange times we’re living in. The world is like completely shut down. Never in a million years would I have thought something like this would happen.

It’s easy to get down about everything going on, I try to look at the positives of this lockdown. I’m such a homebody! I love canceled plans and staying at home. It’s not that I hate going out and seeing people, but I do love cuddling up with my dog and Netflixing with a cup of tea. 😂😂We’ve been watching so much Hell’s Kitchen 😂😂😂. I’ve been able to read so many books and catch up with family on video chats! We’ve been doing a lot of video chat quizzes with friends! Some weekends we have so many video chats, that actually feel like we’ve had a busy week!!😂😂

Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen 😂😂
How Did I Get a Nursing Job in the UK?

How Did I Get a Nursing Job in the UK?

Lots of Paperwork and Patience!

bloggradWhen I was a senior in nursing school (January 2017), I decided that I definitely wanted to be a nurse in the UK. I had been toying with the idea of working in the UK, but I decided to go big and just do it. I have to make life a little difficult, right? haha. If i hated it, I could just go back home and work in pediatrics in St. Louis.

I googled how I could make my dream into a reality. An agency came up right away. I emailed them and asked how to get everything started. They were beyond friendly and eager to assist me. I was told that I needed at least a year of experience in the United States before I could apply. It wasn’t the agency’s requirement, but was the UK’s requirement. I was bummed I had to wait a year.  I just thought as long as you had your license you could go anywhere. I was really clueless looking back haha.

I worked for a little over a year on an oncology ward in St.Louis, Missouri. My colleagues all knew I would be leaving to work in the UK and they were always so supportive. I was so lucky to have them. The agency would also get in touch with me every so often to see how I was doing, which was really nice.

I knew once my one year of experience arrived, I would take my computer-based theory exam. It was an exam required to work in the UK and you can take that in your home country. I started studying for that while I was getting my year of experience, so as soon as I got my experience in, I  could just take it. I was so thrilled when I found out I passed it.  I took that exam around  August of 2018.

The agency told me that the UK requires you to fill out an application online.  Basically this fancy application is to apply to work in the United Kingdom- not a particular hospital. It’s  very lengthy and includes all background checks, references.. you know.  Once you submit it, the UK might not start looking at it until 6 weeks later because so many people are sending in applications. It only took two months for mine to get approved, so I was pretty happy about that. The agency also sent an application I had filled out (a different one) to a hospital I picked, and they hired me!

I had to take one more exam in order to be an official nurse in the UK: the OSCE. It’s a 6 station practical that you take in the UK. Once you pass that, you are registered nurse in the UK! Woohoo!! You are considered a band 5 nurse- which is just like your basic registered nurse in the US.

I started working in March of 2019 and have really been enjoying Cambridge. It seems like it has been a long journey to get here, but it has been so worth it. You just have to be patient with all of the paperwork and it processing- I think that’s the worst part. Once you are offered the job, you get a visa and a biometric residence permit- you’re good to go!42269576_10156776260949168_6214715890882052096_o-1

Why Did I Move Here?

Why Did I Move Here?

blogHiya! I’m Megan. I recently moved to Cambridge, United Kingdom of February 2019 and thought it would be really fun to talk about my experiences here so far.

I visited the UK in 2012 with the Illinois Ambassadors of Music. I was just 17 years old at the time. We performed all over Europe, and I just happened to fall in love with the UK. I only spent four days in London, but I just found it to be very similar to the US, and yet, so different. There are all of these nooks and crannies that I just want to explore. It’s so easy to stumble upon a really old pub that’s hundreds of years old and grab a pint. If you want that modern view, you don’t have to go very far, because Canary Wharf can give you that classy, modern London feel. I recently found out there is a bar that has a ball pit for adults… how cool is that? (still need to go there). Bottom line, there are so many things you can do in London- it’s a city that never sleeps.

When we weren’t performing in London, we were doing all of the touristy things! We went up in the London Eye and you could see the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben is the bell inside- news to me at the time lol!) AND it wasn’t in scaffolding at the time! (so bummed it won’t be uncovered until 2021!!). We had to see a musical, of course, duh! Soo, we saw Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre-so amazing!! I found it so fascinating that London has tons of theatres and you can see Wicked like any day of the week! In St.Louis, we have one beautiful theatre that will run a show for a couple of weeks and then it switches!

Also, we did not take the tube at all in London out of safety reasons. London was about to host the Olympics in a few days, so our group had to take a tour bus everywhere. I remember getting in a bus for the first, oh dear lol- I forgot about the whole left side of the road thing.bloogg

After four days in London, we took a bus to Dover to get to France! I continued my music journey for a few more weeks. I had an absolute blast. I remember getting off of my plane and hugging my parents and I think the first thing I said to my dad was “I’m gonna move to the UK someday, dad!” in a joking sort of way, but also sort of serious haha. He laughed and sort of rolled his eye and gave me a giant hug back. I was 17 at the time, but little did I know that I would end up making that crazy dream a reality.